This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........
Sunday, January 30, 2011
When this "running stuff" started 5 years ago, there was no thought at all in my head about EVER running 100 miles. Funny how things can change so drastically in just a few years. I went from an over-weight, out of shape dude that had never ran more than 3 miles in my life to running marathons for fun, tackling 50k's in a tutu and rolling in to a 3rd place finish in a 50 mile race. That is a pretty significant change of lifestyle in a relatively short time.
Just over one year ago, there was no thought about the impact that cancer would have on my life. For me, cancer had always been one of those things that happen to "other people" not anybody that I was close to. When things change- they change fast. A diagnosis of cancer for my dad in December of 2009, left me with a lot of questions. Surgery came within days and my head was spinning. In March, my mom was diagnosed and her surgery happened before I could fully grasp the situation. Fast. Both of my parents, within just a few months of each other, had been smacked by a horrible, silent, and all but invisible BEAST. Luckily, they were saved through surgery- life is forever different but they are still with us.
Not so lucky were two men that had a major impact on my life. I had known both of these men for over 30 years- which is basically my entire life. They both passed within days of each other, each losing their battles with the BEAST. Again, things happen fast and this was no exception. One battle lasted a few months and the other, just two weeks.
I became involved with the Relay For Life last year because of my parents. Sometimes we need a "wake up call" and I had mine. I went in blind- not knowing what it was really all about- but have learned so much, from some wonderful people in a short time. The Relay For Life is a great and necessary cause that I fully believe in- weird that it had been established in my community for several years but I never felt compelled to help out.... well, things have changed.
Here comes the part where I ask for your help. You knew that I would ask- right? So here is what I was thinking- if we could get one dime for every mile..... yep, one DIME- not one dollar- for one mile. I know what your thinking, "That is craziness.....at 10 cents per mile it would take like 100 miles to even make 10 dollars." Well, fortunately I have thought that through (kind of) and, in less than a week, I will be lining up at the starting line of the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race in Huntsville, Texas. Because I am also a math whiz- all I have to do is run every one of those 100 miles and your $10 donation will break down to one dime per mile.
There will not be any gimmicks involved in this journey. The pink tutu stays home, the Honor Scroll awaits another opportunity, there will be no names written on my shirt with a sharpie and t-shirts will not be sold. (Although I do reserve the right to bust one or all of these out later in the year.) Nope- nothing over the top or flashy- just me and my pink laces in the Texas dirt for 100 miles.
Of course I could use maybe a little extra help. You see, my training has been less than great for this race and I really could use some inspiration and motivation, especially as the day turns to night and the tough miles start to come. This is where you can REALLY help me. If you wouldn't mind sharing a unique story about yourself or a loved one that has been touched by cancer- I just know that it would help pull me through. It may sound silly to some of you but having been through this journey in the last year- I KNOW that it helps. I have been pulled along and carried over the hardest miles of some tough races by these stories of the real warriors in the FIGHT. Leave a comment here- or email me - firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe in the power of numbers- the more of these warriors I have with me- the better my odds. It also works the other way too- the more people that band together, in search of a world without cancer- the better our odds. This is something we CAN achieve- something we MUST achieve and I will not stop asking or trying until WE do.
Click HERE to Donate Online
Or by mail
HC 72 Box 324-8
Wasola, MO 65773
Please make checks payable to- American Cancer Society
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
January 16, 2006. The day I lost my mind. The day that I became a new person. The day that changed the future. The day that changed the world..... okay, maybe I'm getting carried away a little. It was a big day for me even if I didn't know it at the time. It was only one mile at a VERY slow pace in the rain but it was the FIRST mile. It left me bent over, hands on my knees gasping for breath, feeling a little embarrassed and wondering if I would ever try it again. Thankfully, I did.
I ran another mile two days later and it was just as bad, if not worse. At the end of the first week I ran LONG. Yep. I pushed the envelope and threw down a 2 miler and it hurt. Bad. But it was a good hurt. Weird how something that seemed like the hardest thing in the world could feel good but it did. I kept telling myself, "Keep your eye on the prize." The prize in this case was an attempt to win a small weight loss contest. I didn't care about running, losing weight or the prize money. I just wanted to win because losing sucks.
I was never a runner. As a kid, running was used as a form of punishment for sports. I joined the USMC after high school and, of course, we were required to run. Once a year we would run 3 miles as fast as possible for the Physical Fitness Test. Other than that it was mostly formation runs which are really just a very slow jog. My best time in the 3 mile PFT came when I was 19. I REALLY wanted to *win* an Iron Marine Award. It's just a certificate that is awarded for obtaining 285 out of 300 points in the fitness test. Not a big deal but I wanted one. So I trained for a few weeks- hated it- and ran the 3 miles in 18:05 which earned the award. I never cared about running again.... until 14 years later.
In 2006, I was a 33 year old husband, father and college student. At 5'11" and 230 lbs, I was a LOOOONG way from the 190lb Marine of my past. But the running was changing that. The weight started coming off and my pace improved. By May I was down to 195 and ran my first 5k, finishing in 21:07 and placing 2nd in my age group. The light bulb in my head came on and I started thinking about becoming a "runner". Guess the idea that I could be decent and actually compete in some of the smaller events had me hooked.
In June 2006, we ended the weight loss contest. I won, losing exactly 50 lbs, but by then it no longer mattered. I was becoming a runner and the rest was just the frosting. On July 4th, I ran 5 miles for the first time and finished a 10k race a week later with a time of 43:15. I ran several more 5 and 10k's before tackling a 1/2 marathon in November. I knew that it would be hard but had no idea just how hard. The week before the race, the flu-bug hit and left me drained on race day but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I gave everything I had that day and finished in 1:30:36. I was very happy and proud but really thought I would not do anything like it again. Wrong. So very wrong.
Fast forward 5 years and I am preparing for a 100 mile trail race. Yep. The same dude that could barely run that first mile. The same dude that started at 230 out of shape pounds. The same dude that said "never again" after the first 1/2 marathon. Since that first mile, I have logged over 8,000 miles, ran events from 5k to 50 miles, gained a new perspective on life and discovered that I can do more if I just try. January 16, 2006- Proof that ANYBODY can become a runner. Just get out there and make it happen.... one mile at a time.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I am not a huge fan of looking back. The past is the past. Nothing changes and there are no guarantees that the former glory will ever return. Each day is new, every challenge is different and the focus must always remain on the next goal. With that said- it seems like the right time to reflect on what happened in 2010. It was a good year for me with a few major milestone moments. Here are the highlights.
December of 2009 was a rough month. I was recovering from injury after running the last 25 miles of a marathon with a calf strain in late November. This was rough but not the worst thing going on in my life. This was also when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout his surgery and recovery in the hospital there was a lot of time to reflect and figure out what I wanted to do and how to do it. Watching as my "Superman" struggled, knowing that his life would be forever changed, it occurred to me just how fragile we really are. There are no guarantees in life and now was the time to chase dreams.
My training took a big turn and by the end of January I was up to 50 miles per week. This was the most miles on a consistent basis that I had ever run. February brought the addition of weight and core training. This was the BEST move I made and has paid huge dividends in terms of shorter recovery time. I also ran the Sylamore 50k in February, finishing in 5:15 which was good for 20th place overall. Not great but not too bad.
March. This was the REAL eye opener. This was the month that my mom was diagnosed with cancer. The miles I ran when she was recovering in the hospital brought some MAJOR clarity to what I needed to do. This reinforced those same thoughts I had back in December. The time to "make it happen" is now. I also realized that we are all in a battle with cancer and I needed to do my part to fight back. I had been thinking about a 50 mile event in April and now it was clear that I would run.
The Ouachita 50 miler was an awesome experience. Not because I finished in 8:47 - well ahead of my 10 hour goal. Not because of the 3rd place overall finish that I never even dreamed would happen. And not because of the pleasure of running with my buddy, Charley, for most of it as our wives crewed for us. These were all super cool but paled in comparison to the Honor Scroll. In less than one week, so many people stepped up and showed support for this simple idea. In total, there were 191 names of people touched by cancer on the scroll and over $1,700 raised for the American Cancer Society. Carrying that Scroll, with the power it symbolized, was truly a life changing event for me. I am so thankful to all those that participated.
The training continued and in June the next big challenge came. I decided to run all night at the local Relay For Life in another attempt to raise a few dollars for the ACS. I set up the 12 Hour Challenge Event on facebook and received a lot of support and participation. The idea was for each person to log 12 hours total of fitness related activity in the first 20 days of June. Of course, this was not only fun but served as a HUGE motivator for me to actually run all night. That night was special for many reasons and I ended up with 10.5 hours of running and 54 miles. That is 216 laps around the high school track. Sounds crazy now. This craziness brought another $1300 for the ACS and whenever THAT can happen- bring on the crazy.
July was very cool because I got the wild idea to attempt a sprint tri. No big deal. Except I decided to do it "cold". By this I mean without training for the swim or the bike portions. I did not swim or bike at all before the event. Stupid but fun. I finished in the top half and was more surprised than anybody. In 2011- I will *probably* train for this event.
PR's in the 5k and 10k came in the next couple of months. Pretty cool but they were more a part of training than actual events that I focused on. This is something I may work on in 2011- just to find out what I can really run in these events. There was also the One Mile of Honor Event, which was a great success in August and a 45 day running streak that averaged 7.25 miles per day. Fun and interesting.
On October 31, I ran the Dogwood Canyon 50k and finished 5th overall with in 4:26. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. The goal was 5 hours and a top 20 finish. Again, this was another fund-raising event for the ACS. I wore a pink tutu adorned with ribbons. Each ribbon had the name of a person touched by cancer and raised about $450. This was another powerful and emotional experience for me.
One week later at the Bass Pro Marathon I lined up to attempt my first sub 3 hour marathon. This had always been a DISTANT dream as my PR was 3:13. I wore a wristband with 2 names of life-long friends that had both lost their battle with cancer earlier in the week. I believe they helped bring me across the finish line in 2:58:52 and a 7th place finish. Yeah, I was pretty excited about this one. For a few days.
13 days later I lined up at the White River Marathon to try it again. Why? Just to see if I could. That really is why I run- to see what I CAN do. A 3rd place finish and a new PR of 2:58:01 was my answer. A pretty cool way to end the racing year.
The final numbers:
2,340 total miles (goal was 1,500)
Weekly Average - 45 miles
Monthly Average - 195 miles
Highest Week - 66 miles
Highest Month - 231
Total Time - 310 hours 05 minutes 52 seconds
Average Pace - 7:47
~If what you did yesterday still seems big, you haven't done anything today.~ Lou Holtz
The VOICES love this quote and have no problems reminding me of it. It really is true and has been a great motivator for me to "move on" after successfully completing each goal I set out to accomplish in 2010. Prior to this, it was easy to enjoy the success or completion for too long which resulted in a step backward before chasing the next goal. This is not to say that I didn't have fun or enjoy the successes- it just served as a gentle reminder that yesterday is over and the focus should be on the present and the future. I hope to keep following this path throughout 2011 and stay focused on what is NEXT and not what is already DONE. Next up- The Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in Huntsville, Texas..... just to see if I CAN.